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Feedstock for bioplastics

To produce bio-based plastics there is a broad spectrum of feedstock options. Today bio-based plastics are mainly on sugar, starch, plant, oil – the so-called first generation feedstock. Because of potential competition with food and animal feed, there have been advancements over the period of years in using lignocellulose feedstock by converting them into fermentable sugar.

Based on this, the feedstock can be classifed as follows –

  • First generation – Carbohydrate rich plants such as corn or sugar cane that can also be used as food or animal feed are called food crops or 1st generation feedstock. Currently, 1st generation feedstock is the most efficient feedstock for the production of bioplastics as it requires the least amount of land to grow and produce the highest yields.
    • Corn
    • Wheat
    • Sugarcane
    • Potato
    • Sugar beet
    • Rice
    • Plant oil
  • Second generation – refers to feedstock not suitable for food or feed. It can be either non-food crops (e.g. cellulose) or waste materials from 1st generation feedstock (e.g. waste vegetable oil).
    • wood, short-rotation crops such as Poplar, Willow or Miscanthus
    • Wheat straw
    • Bagasse
    • Corncobs
    • Palmfruit bunches
    • Switch grass
  • Third generation – This generation currently relates to biomass from algae, which has a higher yield than 1st and 2nd generation feedstock however, this category is still in its developmental stage. It also relates to bioplastics from CO2 or methane.